She clad herself in a gossamer dress of iridescent clouds And donned a pair of starshine slippers She wrapped herself in the shawl of an amethyst sunset And adorned her head with a crown of fairy lights The Star Wanderer was off to a new adventure New fantasies called And with a periwinkle twinkle In her endless eyes She called to me in my dreams We flew away on ballet wings through the Milky Way dancing around the Andromeda galaxy whirling through Cassiopeia's stars waving gaily at Pegasus We sipped golden cups of dew with sleepy morning glories Laughed with the Effervescent man in the moon And swam with merry mermaids in faraway indigo oceans We crashed loud cymbals of thunder And played chase with the lightning Racing the laughing wind Over summer fields Of green and gold and lavender And as the rays of an early sun Began to light the eastern sky The Star Wanderer and I Made our way back to my dreams Where I blinked my sleepy eyes And smiled... At the starshine slippers on my pillow.
‘Tis time! ‘Tis time!
They gleefully cried
And the medieval muses
rushed to my side…
Gather round my friends
and ye shall hear
Of Melissa’s adventures
Both far and near
Of enchanted castles
And storybook tales
of mystical fairies
And love that never fails…
I couldn’t resist the storybook poetic beginning. England just seems to bring it out of me. I think Shakespeare would have been proud, don’t you? Ha!
I’m finally getting around to writing about some of my other adventures in my brief sojourn to Brockenhurst. This time we visit a country manor (a castle in my opinion), stumble upon a fairy tale wedding, and I even captured a photo of a fairy! (It looks like one to me anyway.)
On a cool, rainy November day, I visited nearby Rhinefield House. Driving up a one lane road, the stunning scenery was lined with ancient oak trees in their prime of autumn colors. Then the car turned the corner and the castle came into view. Catching my breath, I just uttered “Wow!” This old castle turned hotel was the epitome of elegance and refinement with years of history around every corner.
Though it was closed when I visited, the Alhambra Room is an artistic masterpiece and the story goes that a woman had it built for her husband as a smoking room. She wanted him to be able to smoke in luxury. I think she achieved her aim, don’t you? (Ah the whims of the wildly wealthy…)
Of course, such a place is a magnet for weddings and there was one in preparation the day I visited. I peeked in the medieval banquet hall to take a photo and was stunned by the wedding cake in the opposite corner. No that’s not a fake photo…the cake was about 10 feet tall. I’m only in the picture so you can judge by my height ( a mere 5’4). Complete with waterfall, I decided that it must have belonged to a fairytale princess. It just seemed like it should belong to royalty. In fact, the whole room seemed to have an enchanted glow about it as I gazed on it from above.
From the grand interior, I exited to silently stroll around the considerable and beautiful grounds…fountains, ponds, autumn arbors and open vistas graced every turn.
Even an old, hidden door beckoned one to secrets that lay beyond…
But time was waning and the secrets of the old castle would have to wait for another day. Perhaps someday I will return…only destiny knows, but with so much country left to explore, it will likely be just another memory tucked away into my love affair with England.
And what of fairies? On a cold, early Sunday morning as I was making my way across the fields towards the train station, I stopped in awe as the sunrise seemed to catch the light of every dewdrop and turned the whole glittering scene into a magical panorama. I had to take several pictures.
While going back through them, I found something I had not seen when I took the photo. If you look on the path, you will notice a small blue light. To me, it looked just like a blue fairy. Had I just stumbled upon her as she was finishing her morning rounds of painting each blade of grass with dew? Who knows? Choose to believe what you will, but while visiting England, magic found me and with it, I found childlike wonder in the every day.
So closes this 2nd chapter of my adventures in Brockenhurst. Will there be more? Yes, for the muses tell me there must be. The magic must be shared… 🙂
For my next installment of adventures here in England, I of course had to make it Halloween themed! With a couple of visits to the nearby old churches and graveyards, I found spooky gravestones and eerie feelings and yes…even a ghost story!
This is the story of two old English churches and their graveyards. On a quick tour provided by my lovely elfin innkeeper, Sue, I was shown two sites that weren’t normally frequented by visitors. The first was a church which had been standing since approximately 1200 A.D.
Sue told me how spiritual it was to sit or stand with your back against the 1000 year old Yew tree and survey the area. She said there was some connection to the old Yew tree and the ancient roots (roots…get it? haha!) of the area.
One of the interesting stories of this graveyard was a group of soldiers from New Zealand who came to this church and to Brockenhurst to recover from their wounds in WWI. Oddly enough, they all died here…
Onto the next graveyard…with it’s headstones all laid out nicely in a row. Sue had told me that there was something about this graveyard that was different. It had a different… feeling. As I began to wander, I felt nothing, just the same fascination of history and mystery as before.
Until I reached here…
Oddly enough, right in this spot, I felt a knot in my stomach. I couldn’t explain it. Everywhere else I had felt just fine and all of a sudden…something just not quite right. Here’s the eerie part: Sue told me that she had brought someone else there to tour the church and graveyard and they had the same feeling in the exact same spot!! Now that’s CREEPY!! And here’s the weird thing…those two grave markers you see in the picture? One of the former Reverends and his wife. Ummmm…take from that what you will. Hmmm….
I close my creepy post with the following two gravestones: now who would have a skeleton head with a raven on top carved into a gravestone? (Edgar Allen Poe maybe?) That’s just…weird. And the other one I thought was beautiful…in a creepy way. haha! And so my children…ghost story hour is now closed for another year…
(All photos were taken by me – Brockenhurst, England)
I do believe I have stumbled into an enchanted realm. My latest adventure has found me staying for a month in Brockenhurst, England in a charming Bed & Breakfast that can only be described as something out of a fairy-tale. Magic has been found. Boring realities have seemed to disappear for a time. Instead I have found ponies wandering the moors, secret forest paths, owls calling in the middle of the night, fairy lights, and yes…even a unicorn.
Gather round and ye shall hear of faire Melissa’s adventure in enchanted realm yonder…oh I’m sorry, did I just wander off into Old English? I seem to find myself doing that here. (Ha!)
Well, it began when I stepped off the train in Brockenhurst. Awaiting my ride, I heard my name being called and then an older woman dressed in a flowing scarlet scarf with long silver hair came flying around the corner. She looked somewhat like a harried elf who seemed to be out of place at the train station. She belonged in the forest with the other magical folk. This lovely elf turned out to be the owner of the B&B. Sue (such a prosaic name for an elf) picked me up and proceeded to give me detailed instructions on how to find my way around this little village out of time.
When we arrived at Broad Oak, I looked up at the charming old house and was drawn to the dormer attic window. No surprise that it turned out to be The Enchanted Garden room where I am staying the month.
I soon met the other elf in residence, Michael, Sue’s husband. He was so very gnome-like with his white, curly hair and mischievous grin. This couple simply had to be elves taking on human form – the resemblance was uncanny.
Upon settling in, I discovered that the room was as whimsical as the name. Fairies hiding in plants, birds flying across the ceiling and vines growing over the walls. Little lights in the cutest of places and of course, the dormer window thrown wide to let the fresh air of the forest into the room.
I leaned out the window to look at the large, ancient oak spreading it’s branches over the entrance to the road and I began to feel different…more alive. I slept deeply that night and the next morning, as I awoke in my very soft bed, I felt bubbly and excited.
What new adventures awaited me? Was I Cinderella waking to birdsong in her attic and sunlight pouring through a skylight? Was I a princess awaiting her prince high in the Tower of her castle? (Well, a middle-aged, slightly grey-haired and chubby princess…haha!) Whatever it was, the enchantment of this place seemed to be working its magic on me.
Even on a walk just around the “neighborhood”, I found a mesmerizing secret path covered in arching tree branches and vines.
A moor that spread off into the distant mist…
And yes…a unicorn! As you can see by the pictures, the unicorn (disguised as a New Forest pony) looked up at me as I stopped to look at him off in the distance. I tried to get pictures of him without scaring him off and so tiptoed closer.
As I was taking my pictures, an acorn from a large oak dropped on my head! I laughed and looked up. Had a forest fairy just dropped the acorn on my head to remind me of the time? I turned back towards the main path and as I did so, the unicorn must have decided I was a kindred spirit and came to me! It even posed for me as I took a picture! (Of course, unicorns will do this when they know you are a friend to the enchanted folk.) I reached out and patted his nose as a thank you and made my way back to the beautiful fairy house in the woods.
I have learned a new lesson…fairylands, magic, mysteries and romance are simply a state of mind. They are as real as you want them to be. The other night as I was strolling the streets of London, I realized I was lost (as tend to happens there) and wondered if I could find my way back to my hotel. Then I swear I heard my mother’s voice speaking to me in my mind, “Follow your heart and the magic will find you.” She was right…it has and continues to do so.
Was it her that shared that piece of wisdom with me? Why not? How is that any less magical and miraculous than the everyday fairyland I have wandered into? ‘Tis not, I say! Thus closes Chapter 1 of faire Melissa’s adventures in Broad Oak. Will there be more? We must await and see what fate holds!
I must tread softly…
For they do not come
As in times past
When my innocent eyes
Could see the lights
Dancing and beckoning
And I could hear
Merry music laughing
These days I must wait
In the softening twilight
For the prosaic realities of day
To melt away…
And the curtain of willows
to rise on the merriment
Under the colorful canopy
Of Autumn hues
They come in golden auras
Feather light with silver songs
Singing and swaying
To the silent music
Only they hear…
They see me and beckon…
Delicate and delighted we dance
Finding a fairy’s fantasy
In a forlorn reality
Ancient ruins and timeworn walls
We are holding on…
To the bygone magic of yesteryear
I am alive…I am new again
As the frustrations of my soul
are released to the air
To dance to Shakespeare’s ethereal lyre
Of this Mid Autumn night’s dream…
Distant shores are calling…
I find myself in the car heading north
Ending in an evening ramble
In the Northern wild forests
My soul soars as I leave behind
the chains of an invisible prison.
Are the distant pines on fire?
No…the fiery, orange Harvest moon rises,
blazing triumphantly over the fading landscape.
I pull my jacket a little tighter
As the heat of the day succumbs
to the fresh, sweet night air.
It’s 2 am now…the silence here is profound.
No cars, no crickets, no birds…
No other sounds than the distant call of an elk…
Its mournful cry a story of nature primeval.
I had forgotten how silent nature can be.
It’s just me and the moon and the wind…
and oh how bewitching it is!
A part of me remembers this…the silence
Childhood adventures climbing
Over amber-colored hill tops
Dreaming of castles in the air…
When the silence permeated my soul
Like music in the wind.
My life has come full circle
And the little me still sees
Hope on the horizon of my life…
Some dreams fulfilled, some yet to be…
As sweet September turns another page
I stand still…
This perfect moment soon to be
Another memory in the book of my life.
(Some favorite pictures of my recent road trip to Idaho and Yellowstone.)
Dark, majestic, somber pines…citadels of the night.
She weaves in and out of them draped in white,
Both human and spirit in this other worldly moment
She is at one with the secret of the trees.
The crescent moon softens the darkness,
Just enough light to illuminate the path.
As one solitary owl calls for it’s mate,
Ancient stones and fairy lights accompany the dance.
She is seeking impossible answers
Revealing her veiled secrets to the breathless air
She is the guardian of her silence
Only the moon witnesses the whisper of her prayer.
Just one more turn before the chill sets in
Just one more moment to wistfully dream
One more moment to rescue the innocence within
Before the reality of life chains her spirit yet again.
The steady drip
of the cooling rain
Drums counting beats
in reflective refrain
What journey do I take?
What road do I run?
When the green turns amber
And the days become one?
When everything just is
And nothing becomes
When the heart deeply yearns
Yet the fields still burn
When time ticks on
And I am frozen in place
For the break of the rain
to begin counting drumbeats
in my head yet again…
“And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon Englands mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
I will not cease from Mental Fight,
Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand:
Till we have built Jerusalem,
In Englands green & pleasant Land.”
~By William Blake~
As most of you know, I have been back and forth to England many times over the past 9 years. People have often asked me what it is I love about the place and why I always wanted to go back. There are many reasons, but I believe the main one has to do with this beautiful feeling of being “home.”
As a child, I grew up in the Spokane, Washington area among rolling green hills, mountains and lakes. I spent many happy memories wandering through farm fields, playing by streams, and going to the park. I was happiest laying on the grass under green and leafy trees on a warm summer’s day. The scent of sun-warmed blossoms drifted on the breeze and in my imagination, I adventured through many distant lands.
When I first stood on a hill overlooking “the green and pleasant” countryside of England, I felt as though I had found those “distant lands” that I once imagined as a child. My soul felt at home in a way I hadn’t felt for a long time.
But why? I had never been here before. Why would I feel at “home” in a place that I had never lived in? Over time, I concluded that it was because I must have wandered its lands as a spirit before I was born. Had I rambled the pastoral hills with my ancestors? Had I lived in those ruins that so spoke to my soul? Had my spiritual feet traversed the beaches, fields and moors?
Was that why the flowers in their ethereal blues and sunny yellows were so familiar to me?
When I stood upon the ruins of a castle wall, is that why I felt as if I had somehow been there before?
Is that why I felt such passion when I tenderly caressed the ancient stones?
When I walked along coasts of jagged rocks and watched the ocean crash on the shore below, is that why I felt a longing for something I could not put a name to?
Was it the mystery of history that spoke to my romantic soul? Was it me or my ancestors that whispered “Welcome home…”
Though that chapter of my life is now closed, I will continue to carry with me the memories of extraordinary adventures, dreams fulfilled and lifelong friendships made. I will always treasure my journey in “England’s green and pleasant land…” and maybe one day, I will once again traverse the well-known paths with those who have gone long before.
(All pictures by me in England, Wales and Cornwall 2015, 2018 & 2019.)
Walking barefoot in the sand
Carrying white sandals in my hand
The cool water tickles, teases
and nibbles my toes…
Calling “Come play!”
But I am deaf to the laughing waves.
The heart of the sun
breaks light into glorious prisms
Dancing in a glittering panorama
of wordless joy…
But blindly I only see
the painful and negative memories…
listening to lies.
Caught up in my melancholy
I stare out at the horizon
beyond the cerulean sea…
Trying hard to build
new castles in the air…
Failing and feeling nothing but despair.
Yet the ocean is calling…
“Come to me Melissa
and be carefree…
Let me carry
your heavy burdens
And lose yourself in my infinity…”
A wave gives me a gentle nudge
And I finally look up
Seeing for the first time
The sunset colors in painted rhyme
Across an ocean of possibilities.
I am awakened by its boundless beauty.
As the evening star appears
My mother’s voice comes through the years
“You are enough…” she whispers.
I wipe away an unbidden tear.
The wave responds with
a gentle splash and I laugh
seeing my future glimmer once again
Just beyond the horizon…
I sought to walk in the shadows
My heart crying it’s silent tears
The noise of loneliness drove me
The empty walls and unspoken fears.
I sought to hide my sadness
In the dusk of a quiet night
But his laughing smile found me
The Man in the Moon and I.
My ethereal friend and my poet
Under cover of night we walk
He sings my soul a lullaby
The Man in the Moon and I.
What need have I for earthly gems
When cosmic stars are my pearls?
He is my knight in luminous armor
Throughout the waiting years.
Once more his wise and kindly eyes
Have heard the whispers of my heart
Once more he soothes my heavy sighs
The Man in the Moon and I
He gives me strength to start again
So I blow a kiss to my forever friend
I pause and softly say goodnight…
To the Man in the Moon and I.
You surprised me.
I was wrapped in my jacket
against the rough, cold winds,
but under a blue sky,
you fluttered by.
A bright spot of yellow.
A harbinger of spring
A symbol of hope...
Through most of your life
You crawled mere inches.
But living and growing.
Then under the silken struggles
of your mental and physical cocoon
after a long, dark winter
Spreading newly-found wings...
Finding that you were
Finally ready to fly.
I have felt a strong connection to Nature since I was a young child. I have been blessed with the opportunity to witness dramatic sunsets, white-sand tropical beaches, lush green mountains, hidden dark forests, sunlit red rock arches against a twilight blue sky and so much more.
Yet there is nothing that inspires me like watching a thunderstorm. When lightning flashes across a sky or an explosion of thunder bounces off the surrounding mountains, I feel so connected to nature…to the power and majesty of it. Even during a typhoon, I was the (slightly crazy) woman standing strong against the winds just to feel the rush of adrenaline as I faced a force of Nature. Climbing a wet hilltop in March and feeling the fierce storm blow as I take in the glorious view is more exciting to me than anything that man can think of.
I’m not sure where this started, but I remember as a young child that my mother actually had to call to me from the house to come inside during an electrical storm. I just couldn’t take my eyes off the approaching lightning and thunder. Every moment of it was an adrenaline rush.
Since that time, my passion for Mother Nature’s storms has only increased. When a hurricane approaches, I watch the news and videos like a weather forecaster (even when I live nowhere in the area). If a thunderstorm approaches, I will stand outside or at a window and watch the brilliant display until it fades away. I watch tornado videos and am fascinated with the first snowstorm of the year.
I have come to conclude that I am a daughter of the storm. I was meant to ride the winds. As lightning streaks across the sky and the thunder shakes the ground I stand on, I feel a sense of power surge through me and I am at one with Nature. I am not afraid…I am alive! Alive with a vibrant energy that only comes when the wild winds whip my hair and fly fiercely around me. It is in that moment that my spirit feels most connected to the powers around me…reminding me of my own inner strength and that I, too, am a force of Nature.
So small…barely noticed…I only found you because I was looking down at my feet. There you were, among the mossy green blades of grass. You were no bigger than the head of a pin. I would have walked on by, like all the others, had I not been meandering slowly deep in thought.
You did not stand out like the red poppies, the delicate orchids or the bright sunflowers. No, you had a quiet loveliness. But you were there…steadfast and enduring and graceful.
I knelt down and gently touched your petals. Though small, you were perfectly formed. Each petal exquisitely colored in a lavender blue with a bright spot of sunshine in the middle. Tiny mirror images of the heavens above.
You seemed to say “Look at me. I am here. I know I don’t stand out like the glorious rose, but I will be there in your darkest moments, growing gently and persistently at your feet. Giving you something to smile about…even when you are looking down.”
For some reason, I wiped a tear away as I lovingly touched the blossoms. “I see you,” I whispered and I realized that you were, in your own small way, perhaps the most beautiful flower of all.
(Dedicated to my mom who loved Thanksgiving and who taught me to be thankful for the truly important things in life like family, love, nature and Heavenly Father.)
It seems appropriate to be discussing blessings during Thanksgiving. The above song is from the movie “White Christmas”, but the words are timeless. It was during an especially difficult day that I remembered this song. As I listened to it, the words were like a lullaby soothing my soul. I used to watch this movie with my mom and it has grown more dear with each passing year.
As I have struggled with the daily challenges of life, I have tried to remember to “count my blessings” or look for the positive in my own life. Even on my worst days, I will look up at the stars, and be thankful that I can see them. When “my bankroll is getting small” and other events are worrying me, I take this day to simply remember all the positive that I have in my life: joyous memories, the ability to see a sunset or watch a storm roll in, to travel to incredible places, to hear exquisite music, to taste delicious food, to have friends around the world and most of all, to share in the warmth of family and loved ones.
Dear friends, I hope you will do the same. On this day, let us be thankful for the good in our lives. It takes only a few moments, but it will bring a smile to your face and a lift to your soul. Even when your cares press in upon you so much that you feel like you can barely breathe, if you stop and think about it for a while, you will begin to find the blessings. They are there, like small gems waiting to be discovered.
So tonight, as I lay there falling asleep, I will be counting my blessings instead of sheep…and I’ll fall asleep counting my blessings.
(Though this post was written a few years ago, it’s been changed just a bit and the message is just as important now as it was then.)
It’s late autumn in the mountains and the glorious colors of the leaves have faded. They fall with the lightest touch and the ground is a carpet of varying patches of color. The hills have turned different shades of pale yellow and brown. Touched with frost, few colors now grace the landscape other than a few muted yellows, grey rocks and dark brown grass. The tree branches have turned dark…starkly outlined against the sky. It is almost a somber scene.
But as I stand here surveying, I look up. Under a storm grey dome, a gentle snowflake, white and pure, glides softly along the breeze landing on my black glove. For a moment, it’s a delicate picture before it melts away. Another moment, another snowflake lands on my nose, tickling the skin. I glance up to see the skies begin to fill with a thousand white feathers and I watch as they slowly and quietly cover the black branches and the dreary landscape.
It’s the first snowfall and as I watch, a simple and childlike joy fills me as I again witness the transformation of darkness into light. A hush falls over the mountains as the thick snow seems to rest the tired rustlings of a weary earth. Quietly…silently, the snowflakes change a lifeless scene into a new world of purity and light.
The symbolism is not lost on me: against the noise, darkness and despair of the world, how quietly does He restore peace. It is much like a tender, white blanket laid over a weary soul restoring comfort and hope…a silent reminder of love.
And so the snow falls…